History was finally made. Aaron Judge hit home run No. 62, surpassing Roger Maris’ 1961 single-season home run record in the second game of a doubleheader between the Yankees and Texas Rangers.
The historic hit came on a 1-1 slider that the Yankees slugger sent sailing into the left-field stands as the Choctaw Stadium crowd erupted. Judge had been chasing history for the better part of three weeks after hitting his 60th home run of the year on Sept. 20 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
AARON JUDGE HAS DONE IT!!!
HE BREAKS THE ALL-TIME AL HOME RUN RECORD WITH HIS 62ND HOMER OF THE YEAR!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/0Y74k7phE1
— Just Baseball (@JustBBMedia) October 5, 2022
Judge’s 62nd blast now makes him the single-season home run king in the American League and now holds the franchise’s single-season home run record. Both milestones had been held by Maris, who had hit 61 in 1961 for the Yankees.
“It’s a big relief,” Judge said. “Everybody can finally sit down in their seats and watch the ballgame. It’s been a fun ride so far, getting a chance to do this. … Getting a chance to have your name next to someone as great as Roger Maris and Babe Ruth and those guys is incredible.”
Maris’ record held as the home run record in all of Major League Baseball until 1998 when Mark McGwire hit 70 in 1998 to set the new standard, which was followed by Barry Bonds’ 73 home run campaign in 2001.
Both feats along with Sammy Sosa’s multiple 61-plus home run seasons have been called into question due to all three’s involvement with performance-enhancing drugs during their playing career. It has reignited the debate over who is baseball’s true home run king since Judge tied Maris’ 61 last Wednesday.
Maris’ son Roger Maris Jr. entered the fray in Toronto when he said that he felt Judge should be considered the true home run king and he reiterated that in a congratulatory tweet after the Yankees slugger hit No. 62.
“Congratulations to Aaron Judge and his family on Aaron’s historic home run number 62!,” Maris Jr. wrote on the social media platform. “It has definitely been a baseball season to remember. You are all class and someone who should be revered. For the MAJORITY of the fans, we can now celebrate a new CLEAN HOME RUN KING!!”
Congratulations to Aaron Judge and his family on Aaron’s historic home run number 62! It has definitely been a baseball season to remember. You are all class and someone who should be revered. For the MAJORITY of the fans, we can now celebrate a new CLEAN HOME RUN KING!!
— Roger Maris Jr (@RogerMarisJr) October 5, 2022
Maris Jr.’s tweet wasn’t the only one on Tuesday night either. President Joe Biden also sent Judge a message of congratulations after the historic home run.
“Congrats @the President wrote.on home run 62. History made, more history to make,”
Congrats @TheJudge44 on home run 62. History made, more history to make.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 5, 2022
The record-setting home run came in game No. 161 of the season and occurred after Yankee fans had packed Yankee Stadium over recent weeks in hopes of seeing history and catching the ball. Judge’s 61st and 62nd both came on the road after spending extended periods of time in the Bronx.
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The Yankees slugger and new American League home run king did admit the chase started to get to him after Tuesday’s doubleheader.
“It’s tough to say because every game is stressful,” Judge said. “I kind of felt bad for my teammates because every single at-bat, I’ve got teammates stacked up, they’re on the top step (of the dugout) waiting for me to do this. Hit a double, I’d walk or I’d do something, I kind of felt like I was letting them down.
“Even the fans, all the fans packed at Yankee Stadium and fans that came here these past two games, I felt like I let them down if I had a 2-for-4 game or a 1-for-2 game with a couple of walks. I felt like I was letting them down. So I never tried to think about it as pressure, I tried to enjoy every single moment and not really think about it.”
With the regular season finally coming to an end and the home run chase completed, the Yankees and their superstar now must turn their gaze onto the postseason.